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Woven in Deception


Book Review

By Chelvi Murugiah

Woven in DeceptionWoven in Deception is a classic Indian tale condensed in a 153-page book on the trials and tribulations of three generations of a wealthy Indian family, spanning over a century. The book relates the geographical move from India to Malaysia and the continuing struggles faced by three generations of the Kamelanathan family, apparently due to a curse inflicted upon them.

Although the theme seems heavy-handed, Woven in Deception is pretty much a light and easy read from start to finish. The author is able to keep the reader entertained with her tales that are easy to comprehend and, notably, identifiable individual and group behaviour within typical Indian households.

So, if you happen to be looking out for a good weekend read, nothing too mind-boggling, this book is quite straight forward, and would make an ideal selection.

The author, Nirmala Kasinathan, of Indian origin and a doctor from Ipoh, aptly reflects the Indian diaspora in Woven in Deception, beginning in the early 20th century. She takes readers through a litany of imaginary happenings, portraying  living conditions during the British and Japanese Occupation, right up to post-Independence and leading to incidences as current as 2010.

The historical background of Malaysia and evolution of the Indian origin compliments the unravelling of the extended family saga spanning three generations. The book tells tales of love, marriage, betrayal, despair, frustration and more. These emotions and manifestation of human sentiments are revisited through the unfolding of the descendants’ lives throughout the book.

Woven in Deception is centred on the belief that a curse so strong had been inflicted upon three generations of the Kamelanathan family by an angry, never-to-be father-in-law.  The reading reveals the customary practices (mainly superstition), within the Indian and Ceylonese communities where an elder of a family, takes on a superiority position to consult with an astrologer for predictions on their family members’ future. An astrologer’s word, however illogical, is seemingly held in high esteem and is considered the absolute truth, no evidence required. As spelled out in Woven in Deception, each member of the extended Kamelanathan’s family’s misfortune is decidedly due to the curse, inflicted three generations earlier.

Progressing through the chapters, are revelations and turning points in the lives of the protagonists in each generation. Secrets and personal longings are reflected upon to justify intentions and actions taken. The “sizzle” factor, however, takes on a rather passive note, as the author chooses to depict the main characters’ private lives and thoughts rather politely. However, the storyline does reflect, in reality, the workings of a typical class-conscious Indian family.

Whether by design or not, Woven in Deception’s storyline is, in my opinion “woven-in-deception” through the revelation of strong subliminal influences which form the crux of the Indian community’s identity. The Indian social organisation is, till today, structured on its culture, superstition, social norms, caste system and its discriminating patriarchal social system, that define roles of family members within an Indian household.

As an advocate for the equality for women, I abhor patriarchy, and commend the author, although she did so passively, for revealing the conservative traditional and restrictive beliefs practised by Indians and Ceylonese till today.

Woven in Deception is a good medium to create awareness to the readership on gender discrimination and social-class segregation, caste systems, traditions, norms and culture that inhibit the progress of the Indian community, per se.

To quote Arundhati Roy, an accomplished Indian author and political activist, “Our strategy should not only be to confront but to lay siege. To deprive it of oxygen, to shame it, to mock it, with our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance , our sheer relentlessness – in our ability to tell our stories. Stories that are different from the ones many are brainwashed to believe.”

Woven in Deception (166 pages) is published by Strategic Book Publishing in Houston, Texas. The book USD12.95 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website: http://sbpra.com/NirmalaKasinathan or at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com.

For Malaysian readers, the book can be obtained directly from the author at RM40 per copy (inclusive of postage and handling). Contact Dr Nirmala at 016 508 4263 or 05 527 6453, or email: nirmy78@hotmail.com. (Those interested can bank into Maybank account 108225181197 (Acc. holder: Nirmala a/p A K Nadan @ Kasinathan) the cost of the books as ordered and email the author the banking slip as proof of transaction. Kindly provide full mailing address. Books will be sent by Poslaju within 2-3 days or may be collected personally from the author’s residence in Ipoh.

Nirmala’s Literary Debut



By Emily Lowe


Nirmala's Literary DebutA two-year plus stint at the psychiatry department of a public hospital in Ipoh provides medical officer Nirmala Kasinathan the opportunity to get up close and personal with patients struggling with mental health issues. This was the inspiration behind her literary debut, ‘Woven in Deception’.

She was touched by the problems faced by these patients of psychiatry, a specialised field of study where science meets the mind, body and soul. It was a combination of two different fields. These people, who were presented with many different challenges in life, were the basis for the characters Dr Nirmala built out of her own imagination.

Dating back to the early 1900s in India, the storyline gradually moved to Ipoh, where the thirty-something writer grew up. The fiction, about a wealthy, high-caste Indian family, and the curse that had befallen upon the family, spanning three generations, makes for an engaging read.

An avid reader since young, Nirmala, who has always been interested in the medical field, history and Indian culture, spending two and a half years studying in India, had used her own knowledge, background and research to develop her characters.

Despite having no formal training in creative writing, although she used to contribute short stories and articles to school and college publications during her schooling days, Nirmala had carefully crafted her words, taking only eight months to finish writing Woven in Deception.

In an exclusive interview with Ipoh Echo, Nirmala said, “With this book, I was able to portray the Indian culture in an international language, for a global audience.” She considers English her first language, and is also fluent in the Malay language and Tamil.

Nirmala hopes that through her book, which teaches one to face life’s struggles, persevere in overcoming them, and to get on with life positively, will help readers triumph over their own challenges.

The author, who is considering a second novel when time permits, added, “Writing is a form of expression that adds to our collection of literature; a written record of our culture, knowledge, or advancement. It is something that young people can aspire to do. I would like to encourage more local authors to continue writing and get their work published.”

Woven in Deception is available at major online book stores such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. It can also be purchased directly from Nirmala via her email nirmy78@hotmail.com at RM40 per copy, inclusive of handling charges and postage within Malaysia. The book is also available in e-book format.

Look out for the book review in the next issue.